Summary

Conventional wisdom suggests English is going to the dogs, that bad grammar, slang, and illogical constructions signal a decline in standards of usage - to say nothing of the corruption wrought by email and text messages.
But English is a complicated, marvelous language. Far from being a language in decline, English is the product of surprisingly varied linguistic forces, some of which have only recently come to light. And these forces continue to push English in exciting new directions.
These 24 eye-opening lectures dispel the cloud of confusion that clings to English, giving you a crystal-clear view of why we use it the way we do and where it fits into the diverse languages of the world. Like an archaeologist sifting through clues to a vanished civilization, you'll uncover the many features of English that sound normal to a native speaker but that linguists find puzzling and also revealing.
For example, the only languages that use "do" the way English does (as in "do not walk") are the Celtic languages such as Welsh, which were spoken by people who lived among the early English and influenced their language in many subtle ways.
You'll also delight in considering modern controversies about how English is used. For example, "Billy and me went to the store" is considered incorrect, because the subject form, "I," should be used instead of "me." But then why does "Me and Billy went to the store" sound so much more fluent than "I and Billy went to the store"?
These examples and many more represent a few of the flash points in English's long history of defying rules, a process that occurs in all languages. You'll come away from this course with every reason to be a proud, informed, and more self-aware speaker of English.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By andy on 01-12-14

Thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable

If you could sum up Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage in three words, what would they be?

educational, entertaining and enjoyable

What other book might you compare Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage to, and why?

Prof McWhorter's other lecture series on the history of language because they are both of a high quality.

Have you listened to any of Professor John McWhorter’s other performances? How does this one compare?

This is the third of his lecture series I've heard and he never fails to engage and entertain whilst leadimh the listener through some challenging ideas.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It's 18 hours long, so no.

Any additional comments?

I came away feeling like I'd really learnt something new and thoroughly enjoyed the process. This is how all learning should be.

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Christopher on 21-09-16

Marvellous!

This was enthralling, the content is fascinating and the lecturer is fun with a mesmeric style. I loved it!

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